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International Student Survival Advice!

- Lamita Abbas, September 2022

My nightmare in getting to Campus!

Last year, the university had given the option to pick up international students from the airport and take them to campus, but I had gotten quite unlucky. I had to quarantine upon landing, and my room was not ready so when the bus took us to campus, they dropped me off and directed me towards a building on campus, the Radcliffe. I completely did not understand and had gotten myself utterly lost and broke the handle to my luggage. So, there I am struggling because even though I had gotten WIFI, it wasn’t working enough to load google maps and no one I had met knew where the building was either. Thankfully, a kind girl helped me look it up on her phone and took me there. Embarrassingly enough, the building was on the road near where I was dropped off and all I did was get myself farther from it. I want to ensure you can reach your dorm as smoothly as possible and to not feel lost or any sort of confusion.


How can you get to campus after you land in the UK?

So you’re at the airport, likely either Birmingham International or a London one.


London airports will probably require a few different airport transfers and train journeys. I'd recommend plotting your course in advance so you know where you're going ahead of time and you don't need to stress about figuring it out when you get off the plane, tired and in an unfamiliar place. Using Google maps is a good idea as you can set your journey to take public transport only and Google will advise you on what buses, trains, etc to take to get to campus. Alternatively you could splash out on an Uber or arrange with a taxi company to get a transfer from the airport to campus. This will likely cost you somewhere between £100-200 however. But for reference, if you went with an UberXL from London Heathrow, you could get 6 people to campus for around £160 - so you could possibly join chats with other international students and arranging to travel with anyone else you know that's going to Warwick. But I truly hope you don’t land in London because it’s going to take over two hours and a half to reach campus.


If you’re at Birmingham, there are three ways to get to campus; bus, train and bus, or uber/taxi. The quickest option is evidently uber/taxi, it’ll take you a bit over 20 minutes to reach campus and should cost around 22-26 pounds. Bus would be your second-best bet, but it will take a little over an hour to reach. The bus stop is outside the exit, and you should look for bus X1, it will take you to the Pool Meadow Bus Station in Coventry then you will take either bus 12X or 11 to the University of Warwick interchange. The train and bus option are similar except you take a train from the airport to Coventry, which has a bus station outside it, and similarly you will have to take either the 12X or 11 bus to the University interchange. The train takes around 10-18 minutes depending on which train you take, and the bus from there will take around 6-10 pounds depending on train process at the time, it may vary more.


In any situation, you will need to go to a building called the Senate house to pick up your ID card and room keys.


What should I pack? International Student Edition.

Clothes (especially warm clothing)

That seems pretty obvious, but I honestly did not actually understand how cold the UK can get. As someone who lived in a desert for most of her life (Dubai and Oman), I did not own much winter clothes, if any. I genuinely recommend buying puffy jacket/warm coat and thermal clothes prior to travel, not many but one jacket, a thermal shirt and thermal pants. I kept putting off looking for one when I got on campus, and when I DID go, a majority was already sold, and I wasn’t left with a lot of options. I had gotten so cold on a night out, even though I was sitting in front of a fireplace at a pub, that I started shivering so badly that I could barely walk to the bus stop. So please learn from my mistakes and prepare some warm clothing if you are not used to cold weather.


Medication

You’ll probably find all the medication you need in the UK, but sometimes we are used to specific brands and medications that aren’t commonly sold so either check if the brands you prefer is sold here or just bring them from home. Believe me, fresher’s flu is no joke. I had honestly been sick on and off for the entirety of my first term. You are meeting so many new people, in a different country, you will come across many different variants of viruses and bacteria, so just make sure you have proper medication.


Toiletries

Basics like toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and body soap (preferably travel size to conserve space). I don’t know about the rest of you, but I need a shower after a flight, especially since my journey is usually at least 12 hours. I got a towel with me as well, which I would recommend if you also prefer a shower straight after a flight.


Sheets (a pillow and a blanket if it can fit)

This isn’t a necessity, and I know it seems like you can just buy it when you reach but believe me, if you are travelling for hours, you are going to be exhausted and might not have the energy to immediately go shopping. I brought a set of sheets, a pillow and a thin blanket with me. It was honestly a life saver. It is not ideal because of limited space when packing but at least bringing a sheet so when you reach your room you can lay down and rest for a bit. I think you can purchase a bedding pack prior which may be beneficial, if a bit inconvenient depending on if you land not within opening hours of the post office to pick it up (there are amazon lockers on campus which would remedy this issue). (All packages will be send either to the post office near your accommodation, you will probably have to check which


Electrical items

Ensure you have adaptors if your country uses different sockets, and if you are a gamer it may be beneficial to purchase an ethernet cable so your gaming unit runs smoother. Also check voltage differences and whether you’ll need voltage adaptors.


Raincoat/Umbrella

Honestly raincoat is more beneficial, but an umbrella is more convenient to carry around. British weather is fickle and change often. It’ll be hot, cold, rainy, windy all in the same day. I broke my first umbrella, and my second, but my third one is going strong! It might be that I didn’t have a good umbrella but sometimes the wind during the rain is so harsh that the umbrella will not hold up properly. Get what you feel will be best.


Documents

The most obvious of the bunch... Don't forget your passport! And remember when you get to campus, collect your BRP card at the scheduled time.


Your starter checklist for coming to University in the UK.

1. Try to get a UK number with a data plan and calls prior to your flight. It makes life so much easier if you have data to help you find your way.


2. Apply for a British bank card as soon as you can if you don’t already have one. I came to university with a travel card and cash, and they were unhelpful in so many cases. Buses are the primary example, for most buses, you must tap your card to pay, and it does not accept travel card. It was so nerve-racking, and embarrassing standing there having no way to pay for my bus ticket.


3. Go get supplies! There is a shopping centre in Cannon Park which has a massive Tesco and a Wilko’s (Tesco is a supermarket and Wilko’s is retail store that sells a lot of homewares and household goods). Between these two you would be able to get most, if not everything you need from kitchen stuff to cleaning items, etc.


4. You should have been informed that you need to get your ID and room key from a place called Senate house, it’s a building in the centre of campus. That’s the first place you should go when you reach campus. It is also where you should go to replace any lost IDs or room keys. If you live in Lakeside village (Sherbourne, Lakeside and Heronbank), there is also a community safety hub really close by where you can get your key replaced after hours. I knew a few people who slept in the hallway because they didn’t know they can get their key there and no one answered their call that late at night!


5. Try to familiarize yourself with the bus system. There are a few main buses that everyone uses: the U1, U2, 11 an 12X. These go to Coventry and Leamington Spa. Just a warning though, if you want a bus to stop so that you can get on you will need to hold your hand out when you see it approach, otherwise it will pass you, thinking you don't want to get on! As you get more familiar with the bus system, you'll see that there are certain stops the bus always stops at because it's where everyone gets on anyway, and so there isn't always a need to hold you hand out. But it's always better to be safe than sorry!

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